Story 26

Double Respect is Earned

I am not quite sure how or even where to begin. I have never been one to keep a diary or a journal. Never given much thought about trying to convey to others the reason why I chose to do something or join a particular group. At 61, I’m really starting to find this Zen state where my experiences and intuition combine. For me, it came down to a couple of things. I’m reliant on my intuition…my gut feeling. Trust my instincts, and then decide. There are so many things I “could do” and I have to decide what “to do”. All of my decisions are really made on my intuition…what seems right at this moment in time, which is how and why I got to this place and F3.

It was a Monday evening, June 13, 2018, a new “AO” location, an early summer storm on the horizon with the distant sound of thunder and the threat of lightning. The Q, Matt “Stark” Yarder, was seriously contemplating calling it for the night before the Beatdown even began. Fortunately for me, in typical F3 fashion, Stark didn’t call it, and I participated in my first F3 workout: “always outside-regardless of weather”… and “IT” began…and I have not looked back since.

At my age, I wasn’t really looking for another group to belong to. I wasn’t necessarily looking to expand my friendships. I wasn’t even looking for an avenue or new venue to workout. I had already retired and had begun the arduous process of slowly winding down on several Boards and organizations that I had been actively involved with for years. I considered myself pretty fit, active and in pretty good shape. I certainly planned to remain active and connected to serving my community. So, why this thing called F3? What was my intuition…my gut telling me?

As Vice Chair of the YMCA Board at the time, there was a fellow Board Member, Jonathan “Bourbon” Burns, who consistently attended our Tuesday morning Board meeting just coming from a workout. I later found out the workouts were Tuesday morning F3 Beatdowns. Bourbon finally explained in detail what F3 was all about. Not yet convinced that this group was legit, I decided to do what most people do today…I Googled F3. Coincidentally, there appeared in the local newspaper, an impressive and very informative feature article all about F3/FiA Toledo. I was satisfied, even curious…but still a bit skeptical. So I decided to check out F3 in Perrysburg! To my amazement and absolutely satisfying my over-skeptical-self, I was very impressed with my first Beatdown (even though the weather threatened to cancel it before it got started). How totally impressed I was with my first Q…Stark! How very thankful and appreciative I was and am with Bourbon…the guy who EH’d me!

It’s not all about Fitness…however?

Even though I thought of myself as pretty fit, reasonably in good shape, weight-height in good proportion and able to hold my own with guys nearly half my age, to be honest, there was always room for improvement. Having been married for 35 years, I didn’t need the “love handles” any longer. I needed to increase my stamina and am always looking for ways to keep one foot out of the grave. So what the heck? Right? The Fitness of F3 looked inviting. The peer pressure and encouragement was an added bonus and certainly has held me accountable. So with all the crazy nicknames for each other, the strange and unusual exercise names for what otherwise are just plan old pushups or jumping jacks, I jumped in totally…and it has been an awesome ride ever since!

Golden sunlight one day, black skies and wind blown rain the next. Freezing cold and snow drift days to sweltering heat, the weather is capricious…typical of northwest Ohio. But, I have tried to make F3 Fitness a routine part of my daily life. The motivation, encouragement, support and accountability…the fraternal bond from men like Thai Guy, Stark, Bourbon, Isosceles, Sipe, Charmin, Klinger, Geppetto, Flo to name just a few, has been an inspirational experience that I didn’t expect, but wholeheartedly welcome and greatly appreciate! Whether we are rucking through the middle of the night, Indian running in sub-zero temperatures or carrying 45 pound “coupons” through an obstacle course, we are there for each other to get the job done and never leaving the “Six” behind…which at times, has been me!

Yes Fitness…but definitely Fellowship!

While F3 absolutely takes its Fitness seriously, Fellowship is paramount to the core – the very foundation of F3. Without Fellowship, there is not the connectivity – the accountability of the Fitness! I was not expecting nor seeking the quality nor quantity of friendships that I have developed through F3. I have formed some of the most amazing friendships with men of F3.

Those that I have come to lean on and depend upon, and celebrate them for being a part of my life! In most cases, these are guys that I would not have normally met…guys that more than likely traveled in different circles. Men that I would ruck through the night with; guys that I would venture on a “survival” trip with; that I would co-chair a major fundraising initiative with; co-Q a Beatdown with, or guys that I would learn how to fish with. One such person is Jay “Thai Guy” Solarik – “Shield Lock”, “Whetstone”, “Blade”, “Turkey Punch”…someone who has become a tremendous personal friend, confidant and support! The men of F3 have truly and significantly made a tremendous impact on my life and continue to have a positive and worthwhile influence.

Add a little Faith and one comes full circle in F3!

Then there is this Faith component…that actually takes on several meanings at the same time. There is the obvious one…a Faith in something bigger than ourselves – something universal…yes God! I have always been “religious” – church going, Roman Catholic, a community centered around the Eucharist, but F3 takes Faith to new heights. It provides an opportunity, an outlet if you will, to put our Faith into practical – relevant experience. To celebrate each other’s differences while sharing, discussing and even healthily debating our religious beliefs. We all come from different levels of Faith, different religious backgrounds and different ideas and concepts of what it is to be faithful. The take-away is that it is the very differences and unique views and interpretations of the Bible, the “What-What”, what Faith means to each of us that actually is the bond and familiarity that we all celebrate and have come to appreciate. A similar Faith in God, in humanity, as good stewards of our environment, to promote, encourage, nurture, and yes, even roll up our sleeves to get the job done! As F3’s mission states; “to build leaders in our community”…we are also building relationships and friendships, building community, building presence, building future, building Faith.

So after 250+ Posts, countless Q’s, membership in The Century Club, a second place finish in Winter Challenge 2019, two FROG Rucks, a number of GORucks, Cherry Street Mission, and of course meeting hundreds of terrific F3 Brothers, I have realized that F3 is exactly what it claims to be! It’s a brotherhood of Fitness, Fellowship and Faith that transcends age, physical ability, economic and social status, educational attainment and religious affiliations. It’s a true fraternity of believers and doers that understands and appreciates that fitness of mind, body and soul makes a better man, friend, husband, father and citizen. Together, we encourage and support each other to make a better community in which we live, work and play.

Even though I wasn’t really looking for “IT”…I am pretty sure and most blessed that I have found “IT”. So at 60, there is a custom of being honored with “Double Respect” within the “Circle of Trust”. While certainly that is an honor and very much appreciated, especially when the average age of F3 Toledo might be like 30-45, it is a moniker that, at least for this 60+, I take seriously. It is more than just an age differential. It is something that should be earned…something that comes with a certain level of responsibility. The lexicon “Virtuous Leader” comes to mind. The moral of this story might be: the more you do, the more you learn. The more you learn from doing, the more trust and ease you’ll have in yourself. The more trust you have with yourself, the easier it’ll become to be a positive influence to others when the time calls for it. At the end of the day, my decision to be a part of F3, net net, was one of the most important and beneficial decisions I have ever made!

So as we meet each other in the gloom, let us dwell on what and how and who impacts our lives the most because of F3, how we are most impacted and how we can best impact each other and our community through F3. Service Above Self…Fitness amongst each other, Fellowship with each other and within our community, and Faith in and because of each other and through God.


Rick “Huckleberry” Thielen 

December, 2019

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